Friday, November 30, 2012
Today is the first day that Apple devotees running Mac (and Windows) systems can download
the latest version of iTunes, Apple’s trusty old media player, which is now in its eleventh version
and looker sleeker than ever.
The new iTunes has a totally redesign graphical user interface which, aside from the colors, little
resembles the old GUI that Apple has used on iTunes for years now. The new layout relies less
on text and more on album art to let users know where their various songs and albums are. Not
only that, but it displays the album art in a crisp, eye catching way that is a major step up from
small, grainy thumbnails that have been the default display for album covers in the last several
versions of iTunes.
The new design is supposed to be reminiscent of Apple’s App Store and the iTunes Store
interface already used on iOS 6. CEO Tim Cook explained, that hopefully it brings greater unity
to Apple’s overall design style. Whether iTunes users appreciate the parallels to other Apple
programs or not, the new iTunes is definitely pretty to look at, which will be no great surprise to
users who are accustomed to Apple’s famous good taste in software aesthetics.
The update is more than just superficial. Among the new features, the most important is iTunes
11’s great integration with Apple’s cloud infrastructure. Now, songs and other media downloaded
from the iTunes store can be uploaded straight to the cloud, without ever stopping on your hard
drive--an obvious improvement that was inexplicably missing from iTunes until now.
iTunes 11 will also keep closer tabs on your watching and listening data, so that if you start listening to an
album or watching a movie on your iPhone, for example, you can go home, fire up your laptop,
and automatically pick up watching or listening where you left off. iTunes remembers where you
stopped so that you don’t have to.
These improvements are sure to be loved by many, but they aren’t quieting all of iTunes critics,
who have already begun criticizing the new iTunes for continuing much of what they hated in the
old iTunes. As one example, iTunes 11 tips the scales at a full 85 MB for PC users, which is
several times bigger than basic music and movie players. That’s because iTunes comes loaded
with Apple Store features and cloud-uploading clients, along with many other features, which
users who merely want to play their favorite songs find annoying and unnecessary.
Some have even suggested that iTunes be split into three or four new programs--one for playing
music and movies, one for downloading paid content, one for uploading media to the cloud,
perhaps one for playing trippy visualizers in time with Pink Floyd--so that iTunes users don’t have
to navigate all the extra bells and whistles and sidebars, when all they want to do is play a simple
MP3. However, it is highly doubtful that Apple will break up any of its software programs any time
in the near future, after all, why fix something that isn’t broken.